Our world has changed significantly in the past two decades...

How to hire Gen Z cybersecurity specialists

Our world has changed significantly in the past two decades. In this time, the last 10 years have witnessed several rapid changes. We are now clearly in the digital, IoT (internet of things), era.

Entering the work sphere now are the world’s first digital natives – the Gen Z. This is a generation of people that were born in the digital, IoT, era. They do not know of how the world once lived, worked and communicated. Because they have grown up surrounded by digital devices and Wi-Fi access. Besides, they have two identities: their digital presence and their physical selves. But, interestingly, both these identities blend seamlessly as far as they are concerned.

The flip side of the digital, IoT, era is that cybercrime has boomed. Legacy systems are unable to protect and secure data. So data and identity theft are rampant. Online businesses and people who use the internet to make financial transactions are both vulnerable.

As the Gen Z workers enter the job market, they are faced with both opportunity and challenge. They have a humongous opportunity of thriving and growing in this exciting digital age. And they have a responsibility to make the internet a safer and secure place to inhabit and to do financial transactions.

The cybersecurity space is looking at precisely nurturing this talent pool to make things better in the online realm.

Why Gen Z are a good fit

It is very simple. This is a generation that was born into the digital age. They have a natural inclination towards, and a deep understanding of, the digital space. Combine their digital nativity with their youth, their agility and their spirit of adventure, and you have high-energy people who can create a huge positive impact on human lives.

What Gen Z wants

Understanding Gen Z is important if cybersecurity teams want to employ them. Studies have thrown some insight on what Gen Z wants.

Clearly, they don’t attach too much importance to salary. Compared to all other generations, Gen Z values salary the least. Between a high-paying but boring job and a low-paying and exciting job, Gen Z is most likely to choose the latter.

Higher awareness of global trends, thanks to increased access to information in the internet age, makes these Gen Z citizens very socially responsible. They are keen that jobs, across industry sectors, offer them purpose, equity, sustainability and fair play. These values are close to their heart. So, they expect employers and brands to display and live by these values too.

Hiring Gen Z workers for cybersecurity

Employers who want to hire Gen Z workers for cybersecurity roles must pay attention to these top Gen Z traits.

Digital nativity

Gen Z thrives on relationships. But they make them more on, and through, digital platforms. Studies show that Gen Z demands instant, virtual connections. Organizations that hire them must provide them with the requisite platforms and technologies so that they can make these connections at work too. Additionally, Gen Z, like all previous generations, wants to be onboarded with warmth and care.

Diversity champions

Gen Z workers do not support ideas of race, color and creed. They are the most liberal and ethnically diverse generation in history. An organization must present itself as inclusive and diverse to be able to attract Gen Z talent.

Vision, values and purpose

Gen Z will choose to work with organizations that are led by people who demonstrate purpose over profits, values over rules and a clear vision above all. Gen Z workers want to make the world a better place. In a way, cybersecurity offers them a huge opportunity: This space is naturally engineered for integrity, ethics, information security and data protection. It champions privacy and protects citizen and customer rights.

Building a world-class cybersecurity team

Obviously, with Gen Z, you will have hired a youthful team. But sometimes you may find people who are not so young but have the right attributes for being on your team. Young or not-so-young, whoever you are hiring, make sure your hiring decision is marked by this framework.

  • Plan for the long-term. Cybersecurity is a growing, evolving, field. You may not always find people with the right experience. For instance, your immediate requirement may be in DevSecOps. But the candidate may be only a specialist in that space. You may be tempted to recruit this person. But how about hiring someone who has the hunger to learn and who will evolve into an all-round player in cybersecurity in the next three to five years? When you promise young talent a career evolution roadmap, they stay longer.
  • Look for the right attitudes and soft skills. Survey after survey points to the fact that soft skills matter more than technical skills. After all, cybersecurity involves a lot of teamwork. A great worker may be a specialist but may not know how to engage with, and work on, a team. You don’t want such a person to impact the team’s culture negatively. So choose the personality types that will fit your team or organization.
  • Be transparent. Many people are attracted to the cybersecurity space because they have inflated notions of the kind of work it entails. Lay the cards on the table. Tell them how it is a lot of sweat, vigilance and being on the ball. Highlight why agility and integrity are key to efficiency and precision in this domain.

In conclusion

The future-proof cybersecurity specialist’s role is a constantly evolving one. As the future unfolds, the role will continue to evolve. Even so, given how things are, given where we are as a world, it makes sense to look at Gen Z workers. They make the best fit. And even if you have to hire not-so-young people, hire for the right attitude rather than just for technical skills.

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